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Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

Mitsubishi i-MiEV
is a joke

I’m really impressed by your March 2011 issue, featuring the Mitsubishi electric car, the i-MiEV; but not by the i-MiEV, nor your conclusions. The acknowledgement lists Malcolm Faed, who electrified an ordinary ute (SILICON CHIP, June 2009). He halved its top speed, reduced its range to just a quarter, and then needs all morning, and some, to recharge it.

He’s an amateur. Let’s see what the professionals can do. Well, the performance of the i-MiEV is depressingly similar. The top speed is only 130km/h and what’s the 70-to-100 acceleration like for over-taking? The range is a maximum 160km but really about 100km; it only gets halfway to grandma!

Charging is only “fast” with a rare 3-phase device and still takes 30 minutes to 80%. “Real” charging takes seven hours! That’s a 7-to-1 charge-to-use ratio! The article finishes by claiming “these new electric cars are definitely practical . . .” For what? – short trips and long waits?

I suggest a diesel hatchback would blow this out of the water and use bio-diesel if you want to be greener. When I saw Malcolm’s electric ute on the cover of the June 2009 issue of SILICON CHIP, along with the “jolly clever” battery meter, I thought – great irony. Now I realise you were actually serious! You really think electric cars are a “good idea”.

I’m off to watch Top Gear (how did you guess) for some common sense. That’s the real Top Gear too.

Allen Reynolds,
Glenfield, North Shore City, NZ.

Leo Simpson comments: thanks for your letter, Allen. It gave me a good laugh.

I actually agree with you and think that electric cars are never likely to be seen on our roads in large numbers. Check my Publisher’s Letter in the January 2009 issue – I have not changed my opinion since then.

Having said that, we feel that we should report on developments in electric cars. Maybe, just maybe, there might be enough developments in battery technology to make them really practical. But the i-MiEV is a fun car to drive and it might be quite popular, depending on its sale price and the ultimate cost of petrol.

By the way, I also agree with you about the real Top Gear!

Malcolm Faed comments: electric cars are not for everyone. With the current battery technology, they are best used as a very economical, low-maintenance second car if you need one, and take the other car when you need to go to see Grandma, or feel the need to go much faster than 100km/h (in NZ).

As hydrocarbon-based fuel costs dramatically increase (remember 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000s_energy_crisis), whether in our lifetime or our kids, we will all begin to think very differently about our needs and wants. Where we live, work, shop, socialise and holiday. The electrification of the vehicle fleet is one way to help maintain our current lifestyle into the future.

The motivation for using an electric car is quite varied from person to person, from environmental to economic. Some like to reduce their CO2 impact, others reducing dependency on foreign oil, energy security, self-sufficiency, minimising running and fuel costs, removing local pollution sources, keeping energy costs within your country, reducing our unsustainable footprint on this planet (http://wwf.ca/newsroom/reports/living_planet_report_2010.cfm) or simply because they are new, and I am sure I have missed some.

Conversely the reasons for not supporting electric vehicles are many and varied; mostly centred around current price, availability, size and range. However just like flat screen TVs, the prices will reduce and the performance will increase with more products and competition.

I am off to watch Robert Llewellyn on Fully Charged TV – www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow

Mitsubishi i-MiEV should
have in-wheel motors

I was absolutely horrified by the terrible design of the Mitsubishi electric car featured in your February 2011 issue. Just what is wrong with automotive designers? They are so fixated on the design of petrol and diesel vehicles that they haven’t the faintest idea how to design an electric car at all.

Firstly, since 1910 is has been known that the proper way to design an electric car is to use “in wheel” motors wired in series. This completely removes any need for a differential, with a great saving of weight and an increase in drive efficiency. Modern permanent magnet motors designed for this application are available and reach efficiencies of well over 90%.

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